Background and aim: Refractory ascites in liver-cirrhosis is associated with a poor prognosis. We performed a prospective study to investigate whether aggressive nutritional-support could improve outcomes in cirrhotic patients.
Methods: Cirrhotic patients undergoing serial large-volume paracentesis for refractory-ascites were enrolled and randomized into three groups. Group A received post-paracentesis intravenous nutritional-support in addition to a balanced oral diet and a late-evening protein snack, group B received the same oral nutritional-protocol as the first group but without parenteral support, and group C (the control group) received a low-sodium or sodium-free diet. Clinical, anthropometric and laboratory nutritional parameters and biochemical tests of liver and renal function were reported for 12 months of follow-up.
Results: We enrolled 120 patients, who were randomized into three groups of equal size. Patients on the nutritional-protocol showed better preservation of clinical, anthropometric and laboratory nutritional parameters that were associated with decreased deterioration of liver function compared with patients on the low-sodium or sodium-free diet (group C). Groups A and B had lower morbidity and mortality rates than the control group (C). Mortality rates were significantly better in patients who were treated with parenteral-nutritional-support than for the other two groups. In patients who were on the nutritional-protocol, there was a reduction in the requirement of taps for the treatment of refractory ascites.
Conclusions: Post-paracentesis parenteral-nutritional-support with a balanced oral diet and an evening protein snack appears to be the best care protocol for patients with liver-cirrhosis that has been complicated by refractory-ascites.
© 2011 Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.